For Giants fans, that can only be good news. Big Blue has struggled mightily in the defensive backfield the last few seasons. The days of the Wills are long gone and all the talk last year at this time stated that there was no way the Giants could possibly be worse in the secondary than they were the season before.
Unfortunately that talk was all wrong. The moves to bring in Sam Madison and Will Demps didn't pan out nearly as well as New York could have hoped and once again the secondary was riddled with missed tackles, broken coverages and technical breakdowns. However, Jerry Reese's first ever draft pick was spent on cornerback Aaron Ross, and James Butler has risen to become a contender for the starting lineup as well.
Factor that in with a more comfortable Corey Webster and Gibril Wilson playing his more natural safety position and this year's secondary just might be better than last year's group. You'll hear no more definitive statements from us in this department.
Can James keep things safe?
No one ever took James Butler running with the first team this offseason for real. It wasn't until training camp opened up and Butler was still ahead of Will Demps that it became newsworthy. There's no doubt that Demps struggled early and often last season.
Both he and coach Tom Coughlin attributed that to him still recovering from ACL surgery he underwent late in the 2005 season. Butler had some injury concerns of his own, as a kidney ailment limited his activity last offseason.
But now he's healthy and he's been impressive during practices. The third-year man from Georgia Tech is manning the strong safety position, in the process freeing up Gibril Wilson to play free safety, which appears to be his more natural spot.
Will Ross corner a starting spot?
Aaron Ross sure looks like he's going to be a good one. It's just a matter of how quickly he picks up the defense and makes the transition from college to pro. Considering Sam Madison is currently in the starting lineup, there's no reason to believe that Ross won't be at least the club's nickel-back at season's outset, if not one of the starting corners. Madison's best days are obviously behind him, while Ross' clearly are in front of him.
What better time to make the inevitable switch than now? With Corey Webster expected to start on the other side and R.W. McQuarters the master at the nickel spot, it's high time that Madison is bumped down – if not entirely out. Unless Ross totally shows that he's not ready, which is unlikely, he should be out there with the starting defense in Dallas.
Will they be better in '07?
They can't be any worse, right? We've heard those words before and they came back to bite everyone involved. Let's put it this way: The Giants secondary should be better this season.
There's more experience and the talent level has increased tremendously due to the drafting of Ross. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo also has the DBs playing a more aggressive, physical style, which they all seem to be embracing. If they can stay healthy and the coaching staff puts the right people in the right places, it should be a good year for the secondary.
Please check out TGI's newest feature "Live From the Sidelines!" in the lower left column of our site for up-to-the minute news reports from Albany.
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